Is your Christmas celebration like ours, spent with those you love, overeating, not getting enough sleep, cramming each minute with activity, leaving only a small amount of time to remember the greatest gift of all, that precious baby Jesus, our Saviour, born to us so long ago? My husband reads the story in Luke and Matthew. The little ones tell their version. We bake an angel food cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Some years our grandchildren put on a pageant of sorts, more hilarious than reverent. Our time together passes quickly and I'm filled with regret that we didn't spend more time focusing on the reason for this holy season. My only comfort is that Jesus is not a once-a-year Saviour. While I'm restoring order, I thank God for His plan, for His love, vowing to do a better job honoring Him next year. If you have some tips on ways to keep the focus on Jesus, please share.
Praising God for his unconditional love and wishing you a Merry Christmas! Janet
I'm thrilled to have sold a third book: One Wife: Sealed and Delivered (working title) to Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical. This book will be set in fictitious New Harmony, Iowa with new characters to torture. :-)
I'm thrilled and grateful that my debut novel Courting Miss Adelaide has been selected as a nominee for the 2008 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award! I read and loved all the books of my fellow nominees!
Here's the list of nominees for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical:
COURTING MISS ADELAIDE Janet Dean (Sep.)
THE ROAD TO LOVE Linda Ford (May)
HIGH COUNTRY BRIDE Jillian Hart (Jul.)
LEGACY OF SECRETS Sara Mitchell (Apr.)
SEASIDE CINDERELLA Anna Schmidt (Jul.)
Romantic Times gave Courting Miss Adelaide a 4 and 1/2 star review in the September issue.
I found Vince's awesome review of Courting Miss Adelaide at eHarlequin. Thanks, Vince, for reading my debut and giving the book such high praise! Thanks to all my readers who've sent e-mails and letters. Your encouraging words have been a huge blessing. And a humbling responsibility to write, with God's help, the best books I can.
If you're a writer and want to add more emotion to your stories, stop over at Seekerville today. I'm talking about seven tools you can use to give your readers the emotional experience they want. Leave a comment and I'll enter your name in a drawing for my critique partner, Shirley Jump's Miracle on Christmas Eve.
I've returned from voting. It took about a half hour, but by the time I left the polling place, the lines were far longer. I'm happy to see a good turnout. The weather is gorgeous here in the Midwest. A perfect day to vote. I've prayed long and hard that God's people will vote according to His teachings. I'm leaving the outcome in His hands, knowing God's in control, praying He'll continue to bless our country. America isn't perfect, but its still the best country in the world.
I'll spend the rest of my morning getting my desk cleared and myself organized. :-)
Two people have won a copy of Courting Miss Adelaide, but I don't know how to get in touch with them. If you're Look To Heaven or Sheri of sheriboeyink, please send your snail mail address to email@example.com and I'll get a book to you. Thanks!
I'm thrilled to have a fellow Seeker, wonderful writer and great friend, Camy Tang, at Cup of Faith today!!!! I just finished her last book in the Sushi series, Single Sashimi, and I loved it!!! It's definitely my favorite of the three.
Welcome to Cup of Faith, Camy!
Thanks for having me here, Janet!
Your books focus on the ups and downs of a big Asian family. Can you tell us about your family life growing up? Perhaps share some memories from your childhood?
My family isn’t actually very big (the large Sakai family is based off of stories told to me by friends about their large Asian families). But like the Sakai family, our gatherings are always focused on the food.
(I personally think that Asian people are all obsessed with food, because where they gather, there’s always food around.)
My mom and grandmothers are terrific cooks. My favorite holidays are:
Christmas, because we’d get Mom’s Chinese chicken salad, Grandma’s lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie, and prime rib.
New Year’s, because we’d get Grandma’s mochi soup (mochi rice balls in seafood flavored broth with Japanese greens.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was five. Okay, no, maybe I was eight. I had just read Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and knew I wanted to write novels, too.
What was your favorite scene to write in Single Sashimi?
The first kiss! I won’t give it away because it’s a bit of a surprise, but it was SO fun to write partly because it came out of nowhere! I was as shocked as Venus.
Tell us what your typical writing day is like.
I typically start off answering emails since I want to get my more urgent writing business out of the way so I can have some “creative space.”
If I have critiquing jobs to do through my Story Sensei critique service, I do them in order of priority (basically, whoever hired me first).
Lastly, I spend time in my writing. When I’m in the brainstorming stage, I try to have as much time slotted as I can, because sometimes it takes a while for the creative juices to get flowing.
When I’m in the writing phase, I can pretty much write anywhere, anytime, for any length of time. This is when my Alphasmart comes in very handy.
What are your favorite leisure activities?
Knitting! Oh my gosh it’s not even funny how much I love it.
In fact, I would even venture to say that I NEED it. The action of knitting relieves my stress.
I don’t know how it does it, but the repetitive movements just help me calm down.
I think everyone should knit. Plus, unlike crochet, you don’t necessarily have to look down when you knit, you can often knit without looking. Like I do in front of the TV. :)
I find knitting relaxing too, but only if its scarves or an afghan, something that doesn’t require getting the shape right. My first knitting project was a baby sweater for our first daughter. I must’ve thought she was part octopus. Even rolling them up, the sleeves were so long, she never wore it. LOL
Thanks for sharing a peak at your life with us today, Camy!
Thanks for having me here, Janet! Camy
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away ten boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, SINGLE SASHIMI.
My topic is promotion and titled "What I learned with my First Book on the Shelf." Come on over to www.seekerville.blogspot.com and read about the wild, wonderful, wearing month when Courting Miss Adelaide hit bookstore shelves.
Wednesday and Thursday, October 1 and 2: I'm a guest of Running with Quills with Elizabeth Guest, Jayne Ann Krentz, Elizabeth Lowell, Stella Cameron, Lori Foster, Susan Anderson. www.runningwithquills.com
I'm thrilled to have Julie Lessman, a dear friend and wonderful author at Cup of Faith today! Julie, Tina Novinski, Myra Johnson and I met in 2005 when we were Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart finalists. We've become good friends and called ourselves The Golden Girls. Now we hang out with our lively Seekers Sisters at http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/
Julie's first book in the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Most Pure, released in January. If you didn't get to read this excellent book, comment on the Julie's post today to enter the drawing.
Julie has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Redeemed releases in September, and the third in May 2009, A Passion Denied. You can visit Julie at her Web site at http://www.julielessman.com/.
Describe your typical day, Julie. Do you need a jolt of caffeine to get going? Or are you up and at ‘em kind of gal?
Are you kidding, Janet? Keith has to practically start an IV into my veins of hazelnut caffeine or I’m pretty much inoperable. Also, before I even open my eyelids, I have to pray for God to help me get out of bed – no joke!!
Do you have a page count you try to fulfill each day? Any tips on productivity you care to share?
Uh, page count? Define it, then I’ll tell you if I have it!! Actually, I am ashamed to say that up until a month ago, I hadn’t written one word on a novel since last September, other than revisions. Believe it or not, promotion has eaten up most of my time (that and working up part-time until last April) .Pretty sad, I know. But I am hoping to kick into gear here real soon on my next 3-book series. And I wrote book 2, A Passion Redeemed, which is almost 500 pages, in 2 months working part-time, so I know I can crank when I have to.
Your covers are phenomenal. How much input did you have with Revell?
Thanks so much, Janet. Trust me, two years of prayer with my prayer partners went into the cover for A Passion Most Pure, so I honestly feel it is anointed. As far as input, I have been blessed to have a lot of input into my covers (now, my publisher, Revell? Uh, not so blessed!). For A Passion Most Pure, the heroine’s hair was originally down, which looked like a prairie romance, so I explained that it needed to be up since this was 1916 Boston, and my artist graciously complied. I also asked her to make the hair more red and the eyes more green, which she also did.
But the most important change was with the hero’s picture. The cover art originally had this namby-pamby picture of Collin and I almost started crying. I asked her if she had any other shots, and she said only one, but that everybody at Revell thought he looked too angry in that shot. I asked her to send it to me anyway, and WOW, it was exactly the look I was going for. Collin IS angry because he wants the heroine, but he can’t have her, so the smoldering look conveyed the romantic tension in the book.
On book 2, the hero’s hair was slicked down and a bit too long, making him look like a pompous English dandy, so I begged my artist husband (God bless him, he lives with a high-maintenance maniac) to lengthen the model’s chin, trim his sideburns and give him unruly blond hair. We even spent 30 minutes scanning the Internet for the perfect hairstyle (a celebrity who shall remain nameless), which Keith slapped onto the hero’s head. Ahhh … MUCH BETTER!! Oh, and since the heroine is supposed to be well endowed, I actually had the nerve to ask the artist to “endow” her a bit more, which they did!
What’s been the biggest change in your life since publication? Does your husband treat you like the CEO you are?
The biggest change is that I have more peace about my writing. Before I was published, I honestly had NO idea if I was any good or not. But now, I feel a little more secure with three books under my belt. That is, until I started writing the synopses for the next 3-book series! YIKES, the doubts are back, which is okay because it just means I have to trust in God that much more. And believe me, I do! J And, no, my husband treats me exactly the same as before … except for that tiny glimmer of pride in his eyes.
What is the hardest aspect of being a writer? The easiest?
Easiest: Writing dramatic, breathless and compelling love scenes. Sigh. Hardest: Trying to get published. Yuck!
How do you keep from being overwhelmed with writing, promotion, family responsibility, and still have time to smell the proverbial roses?
Honestly? For me, it’s pretty hard. I am such a wired individual, that I can go tilt pretty easily. That’s when I RUN … not walk … to the throne of God for true perspective. One of my favorite scripture prayers is from 2 Corinthians ll:3: Lord, do not let me be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
You grew up in a large family. What’s the best and worst thing about having 12 siblings?
Yes, a family of ten girls and three boys, so you can only imagine the PMS churnings going on in that household … especially with a menopausal mom!! For me, the worst thing about having so many siblings was feeling as if I never got enough attention or love … uh, that and the fact that I never got my own room. Six of us girls slept in one long room that had twin beds lined up like a dorm. Which explains why I felt like I died and went to heaven when I stayed in a convent at the age of 15 with my aunt who was a nun. I slept in an 8’ x 10’ room the size of a closet, but it was all mine for two wonderful weeks – sheer bliss!
The best thing about a large family is the closeness you share as you get older and FINALLY realize that family is a true gift from God.
Can you share a favorite memory from your childhood?
Well, as you may know, I actually penned 150 pages of what is today my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, after reading Gone With the Wind at the age of 12. That said, my favorite memory is of my little sister, Kate, lying on her bed, chin in hand and eyes wide as I read my “novel” to her night after night. As the last two of thirteen children, we shared a room, and that golden-haired nine-year-old provided me with the love and encouragement that I didn’t always receive from my family. Her love has been like God’s love to me—unconditional and boundless, and a true blessing in my life.
What’s your favorite way to spend leisure time?
Watching old movies with my husband, dinners out with good friends and reading, of course!
What’s your favorite food? Color? Car? Your dream vacation?
Favorite food? Turkey and dressing and Spanish rice. Favorite color? Blue. Favorite car? Sebring convertible. And favorite vacation? On a beach, with a book and a breeze … and my husband.
You’re a beautiful witness for God. Can you give suggestions for those who find sharing their faith more difficult?
Thanks, Janet, but you don’t live with me day in and day out, so “beautiful” might be a real stretch … As far as sharing one’s faith, there are as many ways to do that as there are people to receive it. God uses each of us in differently, according to our personalities – the bold ones to shout His message from the rooftops, and the quiet ones to reflect Christ in the gentleness of their lives.
As a person who is definitely one of the “Bolds,” I’ve discovered the secret of praying on the spot. Prayer is absolutely critical to me – I couldn’t survive without it – so whenever I am talking to someone who expresses a problem in their lives, I pray with them immediately, no matter the time or place. I try to do it in a conversational way, eyes open and expression normal, so as not to embarrass them. Most people tell you they will pray for you, but I’d rather get the need into God’s capable hands sooner rather than later or not at all. Of the thousands upon thousands of people I have prayed for on the spot, not one has ever objected and all have been grateful. So I would suggest stepping out in faith and trying that – most people would be surprised at how quickly it becomes a habit.
Your book was rejected a lot. Do you see God at work in the timing of your sale?
Yes, A Passion Most Pure was rejected a total of 45 times (including three late rejections that came in after I already sold!), but God’s timing is perfect. As I mentioned earlier, I started writing this novel at the age of 12, but it wasn’t until 40 years later that God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him!
In 2001, I was sitting in a beauty shop reading a Newsweek cover article about how Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. Something in my spirit said, “Now is the time to finish your book,” so I started it the next month. It took five years to get published, but I have to say that the “timing” was indeed perfect! When I was writing APMP, historicals were reported to be “dead in the water,” but they’ve taken a definite upswing in the last year, right before A Passion Most Pure was released. Also, APMP is what I would call an “edgy” Inspirational Romance, meaning it’s a bit more overt and realistic in its romantic tension (of which there is plenty!), a trend that up until a few years ago, was pretty much taboo in the Christian market. So, yes, to answer your question—despite all the painful rejections, I now definitely see God at work in the timing of my sale.
Thanks SO MUCH, Janet, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readership. In closing, I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my Web site at www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter.
Currently in my newsletter, I am having a contest to win a signed author copy of Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, before it even hits the stores! Also, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which both you and I are a part and a great blog that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find it at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/.
Thanks again, Janet, and God bless!
It was great having you at Cup of Faith, Julie!
Remember readers to leave a comment to have a chance to win a copy of A Passion Most Pure. You definitely want to read this book before you pick up A Passion Redeemed.
I had a great time in San Francisco at the Romance Writers of America conference! It's always fun to reconnect with friends, attend the Faith, Hope and Love mini-conference, the Rita and Golden Heart Awards ceremony and the fabulous Harlequin party!
Several authors went to lunch with Editor Melissa Endlich, head of the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical line.
Our workshop "First Year on the Job: From the Call to Publication" Debby Giusti, Missy Tippens and I put on with Steeple Hill Senior Editor Krista Stroever went well. I dislike public speaking, but was relaxed, definitely an answer to prayer. The picture is of me, Debby and Missy at the Harlequin party.
One of the highlights of the conference was a workshop given by Blake Snyder, successful screenwriter and entertaining speaker. I got lots of valuable information but plan to buy his book Save the Cat for more.
While at conference I learned Courting Miss Adelaidereceived a 4 1/2 star review from "Romantic Times," the highest rating they give. I'm still thrilled and grateful!!!
Around 2,000 writers, agents, editors and other professionals in publishing will gather in San Francisco to attend or give workshops, network, and socialize during the Romance Writer's of America conference. Unpublished writers get the opportunity to pitch their stories to editors and agents with the hope they'll one day see their words in print. The grand finale is the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Night, RWA's version of the Oscars. The conference is an exciting, hectic, informative, and exhausting few days.
The morning before the conference officially opens Faith, Hope & Love, a special interest chapter of RWA, hosts a mini-conference for inspirational writers and professionals that ends with a wonderful time of worship, fueling our spirit for the days ahead.
I'll participate in giving a workshop entitled: First Year on the Job: From "THE CALL" to Publication. I'll attend my publisher's party, a gala event, and see my editor at lunch and other functions. Best of all, I'll hook up with writer friends I've met at prior conferences and only see once a year/ Those friends are one of the many blessings of being a writer.
Whatever your dream, grab the opportunities like this conference to bring it to fruition.
Mary Connealy, author of Calico Canyon, a good friend and Seeker pal suggested I get my picture taken holding Courting Miss Adelaide. Since I know better than to ignore Mary's advice, here I am in my office holding a copy of my debut novel. In two months it will be in the stores so you can hold it, too. :-)
If you haven't read one of Mary's book, pick up a copy of Calico Canyon. I loved it!
If you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, stop in at http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/ today and chat with Susan Meier. Her ten minute solution will increase your productivity. Post a comment and I'll enter you in a drawing to win one of Susan's backlist.
In a week or so, I'll have bookmarks to promote my debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide. My critique partner and dear friend, Shirley Jump, http://www.shirleyjump.com/ handled the design. I'm really pleased with how they turned out. And can't wait to pass along this tangible reminder of the books' release this September.
There's so much to do to promote a book. I will write blog posts and answer interview questions. Contact the media. Set up book signings. It's all a bit overwhelming, but exciting, too. I have some wonderful friends who want to be influencers for the book. They'll read then posting reviews and invite me to their blogs, if they have them. They'll help get the word out. There's nothing like word-of-mouth to build buzz.
My two daughters and I took my granddaughter, along with her lookalike American Girl doll, to Chicago's American Girl store last weekend. We soon discovered we ladies loved the dolls as much as our little princess, crowned such just for this special day. :-)
We started our adventure at American Girl's stage show and were enthralled with the stories of Molly(1944), Kit (1934), Samantha (1904), Addy (1864), Kirsten (1854), Josefina (1824), Felicity (1774), and Kaya (1764). The performers, mostly children, did a phenomenal job of acting and singing. The show ends in September. The Chicago store will relocate to the first floor of the Water Tower on Michigan Ave. Four other stores are in New York, Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
After the show, we hung around to meet the actors and get autographs, then headed to dinner in the American Girl dining room, a darling spot decorated in black, white, and hot pink. Our table overlooked the old Water Tower and the carriage traffic moving past beneath our window. Zoe, my granddaughter's doll, sat in a special chair that slid onto the table's edge. Our waiter brought her a tiny black and white mug, while we enjoyed cinnamon rolls, huge tray of appetizers, a salad, entree--I chose talapia--and dessert of iced angelfood cake, sugar cookie with pink sprinkles and chocolate mousse in a miniature flower pot.
The store closed soon after dinner so we headed to the carriages, letting the princess select her steed. The lovely temperature had dropped by this time, but we were toasty under a blanket as we took the half hour ride along Lake Michigan and discovered two small parks we didn't know existed.
We managed to get a few hours of sleep in our hotel before the noise of the elevated train woke us the next morning. After breakfast we returned to American Girl to let the princess shop for her birthday, only days away. The items are expensive, but very well made and rich with detail. She selected a daybed with a trundle, along with lovely matching bedding. We stopped in the beauty shop and got pointers on how to take care of Zoe's hair. The princess didn't want to relinquish her doll to the hairdresser, even though Zoe's tresses could use some TLC. Before we left the store, we toured the historical dolls, looking at books, DVDs, furniture, and accessories. I'm drawn to Molly, but Kit was a favorite of my daughters. Samantha drew lots of attention, but in the end, we ladies resisted the urge to buy ourselves a doll. Who knew this trip would reawaken our own little girl fascination with dolls? After lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, we piled into the van. We'd had a delightful time and vowed to make another all-girl excursion.
Are you or a little girl in your life a fan of American Girl? If so, which doll is your/her favorite?
I'm thrilled with the wonderful cover Steeple Hill's Art Department gave my debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide! Adelaide is delighted to model one of her favorite hats from her shop. Or is she looking at Charles? Hmm. The blurb in the lefthand corner says: Some things are worth waiting for. She couldn't agree more. And neither could I!
If you love the cover as much as I do, let me know by leaving a comment and I'll put your name in a drawing to win a book when I get my author copies. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can reach you if you win.
Multi-published author and friend, Colleen Coble is at Seekerville.blogspot.com today, talking about contests. Stop over and leave a comment to be included in our contest.
Hope you, or the lady in your life, had a lovely Mother's Day. My husband and I celebrated with one daughter and her family on Saturday. We'll see our other daughter next weekend so we were alone Sunday. The gloomy, rainy day didn't stop us from enjoying the Mother's Day message at church and the lovely four-piece box of candy handed out to the ladies after service. Yes, I shared with my husband. :-) We went to brunch with friends, then drove to our favorite nursery to buy plants. We've cut back on all the groupings of pots we used to have and now stick to two showy favorites. We got a beautiful braided hibiscus tree for the front porch and a vining Mandevilla for the deck. My husband dropped me off at WalMart and I ran in for the May copies of the Love Inspired Historicals, The Bounty Hunter's Bride by Victoria Bylin and The Road to Love by Linda Ford. I've read all the books in the new line and really enjoyed them. I'm delighted to be part of this wonderful group of authors!
Which brings me to my news. My second book has an official title and release date: Courting the Doctor's Daughter, LIH, May 2009. I love the courting titles. As soon as I get a cover for Courting Miss Adelaide, I'll post it here.
In an August 15, 2007 post, I credited a shop owner on the island of Capri for inventing the Capri Pant. I've been corrected by Dr. Sylvia DeLennart, PHD. She informed me that her mother Sonja de Lennart is the inventor of the Capri Pant, not a French or Italian woman. I apologize for the error. If interested in more information on the inventor, visit: http://www.sonjadelennart.com/
I'm sorry that I didn't hear from Nina, but the week has passed. I drew another name from those who commented on Camy Tang's blog post. The new winner is Michelle Gregory. Congratulations, Michelle! I'll be contacting you by e-mail.
Nina's name was drawn from those who posted comments on Camy Tang's blog Tuesday, March 4. I don't have Nina's e-mail address so I hope she reads this and will either leave her e-mail address as a comment on this post or send it to janetdean.net.
Congratulations, Nina! And thanks to all who posted. Camy and I had a great time!
Hi y’all! This is Camy Tang, and for this stop on my blog tour, Janet suggested I interview HER!
I love interview questions. Let’s hope Janet has a strong constitution. Hehehe.
1) If you were a dessert, what would you be and why? (I would be a peach melba, because I have a lot of variety in me of creamy, fruity, and tart, and I’m not too sweet.)
Peach anything sounds good to me, Camy. I applaud the tart in you. And I mean that in the nicest way. :-)
I’d be a cream puff. A well baked cream puff does not collapse. The hollow within is filled with lots of good stuff. It’s protected by a sturdy top and drizzled with chocolate. Yummy. But the best part—cream puffs are supposed to be lumpy.
2) What was your first job? (I worked at the public library shelving books, but I have to confess I often hid away in the back room, reading the books I was supposed to be shelving.)
Writers are readers first. Glad you found a way to squeeze some research in. Camy.
I babysat, of course, but my first real job was in college. I worked at an elementary school taking care of the kids in the lunchroom and on the playground. I met my husband there. The kids would sing Janet and Dale sitting in a tree… That was before our first date. We must have been sending off vibes.
3) Do you have an iPod or MP3 player? What color is it/would it be? (Mine is PINK! Naturally.)
You look great in pink. Is that your favorite color?
I don’t like using ear phones so my MP3 player is a boom box, silver and black. I got it to listen to RWA workshop recordings.
4) Do you drink tea or coffee, and how do you take it? (I like coffee but most often drink tea, English-style with milk and honey, although I only do that in the mornings because it’s not very good for me—but you probably don’t have to worry about it, you sexy lady, you. I totally want your figure.)
I love coffee. I can’t get moving in the morning without it. And what’s dessert without coffee? Though at night, it’s decaf. When I’m sick, I want hot tea. I like iced tea in the summer. I drink it all.
I paid Camy to say I have a sexy figure. :-) In reality, I’ve learned how to dress to hide the cream puff lumps.
5) Describe your dream vacation. (Captain Caffeine and I would head to ITALY! Where we would EAT ALL DAY!!!!! And the Captain would drink LOTS OF ESPRESSOS!!!!)
We share the same dream vacation location! Our dream came true when my husband and I spent fifteen days in Italy last year. We visited Rome, Pisa, Milan, Florence, Lake Maggoire, Venice, Verona, Assisi, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri. Loved it all! If you dig through my old posts, you’ll see some of our pictures. The food was great! I prefer cappuccinos and the wonderful Italian lattes to espressos.
Thanks for having me here, Janet! (I hope I didn’t cause you too much abject embarrassment.) Before I go, I want to tell people about my huge website contest going on right now—I’m giving away five boxes of Christian fiction books and 25 copies of my latest release, ONLY UNI. Only members of my newsletter YahooGroup are eligible to enter, so join today: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Camys_Loft/join. And people can find out more about the contest here: http://www.camytang.com/contest.html.
Thanks, Janet! Camy
Thanks, Camy, for stopping at Cup of Faith. Your questions were fun. Camy is one of the Seekers over at Seekerville.blogspot.com and a good friend. I hope readers will stop at Camy’s loft and sign up for her newsletter. It’s a good one and you’ll be fortunate indeed if you win. I've read Only Uni and it's a wonderful book! If you post a comment, I'll put you in the drawing to win a copy here.
Sometimes writing is like sipping from a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The aroma is lovely, the flavor rich, even exciting, if you love coffee as much as I do. This is when the words come easily, filling me with pleasure, awakening my creativity and zest for the story. It's a good time.
But there are those days when putting words on the page is like drinking from the last dregs of the pot. If you've experienced that bitter, burnt flavor that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you know what I mean. On such days, I lose the joy of writing. When that happens, I find it best to read the manuscript from the beginning to regain the flavor, renew my excitement for the story and before long, I'm drinking from a fresh pot, savoring the process.
I've learned that spending time with God in his word and in prayer, seeking to put him first in my life, helps prepare me to handle whatever the day brings--the hilltops and the valleys. I like to think of my time with God as sipping from his life-giving waters, filling my cup of faith, something that never disappoints.
I turned in revisions on my second sold book at the end of January so I'm forging ahead on book three. That'll keep me busy while I wait for the release of Courting Miss Adelaide in September. Seven months to go. I know the time will fly. Stop in each month for the countdown of the book's release. About three months out, I should have a cover to share.
If you love historicals, Love Inspired Historical launches this month. The first two books coming out tomorrow. Can't wait to dive in!
I drew a name from those who left a comment on Cheryl Wyatt's post. Hannah is our winner. I've contacted her by e-mail and will mail her a copy of A Soldier's Promise as soon as I hear back from her. Thanks everyone for entering the contest! And thanks Cheryl for a wonderful, practical post on how to find time to write with young children.
Cheryl Wyatt writes for Steeple Hill. Her novels from her Wings of Refuge Series are about a team of USAF Pararescue Jumpers and the ladies who capture their hearts. Cheryl's wonderful book, A Soldier's Promise, is on sale this month. I've asked Cheryl to share tips on how she makes time to write with young children.
How I write with kids:
Since I left one career to stay home with my children, I am very strict about sectioning off writing time.
I make sure I don't over-volunteer for stuff that could cut into my God (which includes Bible), writing or family time.
I try to only write while my children are in school, or sleeping. That means staying up late (my preference) or getting up early (yick!).
At the beginning of each year, I prayerfully evaluate what things I can give up in order to have more writing and family time. For instance, I have watched TV a total of about ten hours for the past three years. I haven't IMd except for around three times in about three years as well. I pulled out of coordinating ACFWs Book of the Year, Genesis and IRCC Contests since that took several hours a day for weeks at a time. That was a prayerful decision.
During this evaluation time, I decide how many people I can mentor and how many contests I can judge and I don't do any more than that. Usually around five contests, three to four unpublished and one published contest. That is my way of giving back because I feel that is so important. I wouldn't have gotten where I am (and I still have SO much to learn) had others ahead of me on the road not taken me under mentoring wings. Even in that though, I try hard to set strict boundaries because my husband and my children come first.
I ask God to order my day before my feet ever hit the floor in the morning. I ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom on what to say no to and what to pursue.
I put God first.
This year, I'm giving up shopping. My husband has agreed to take that over. That will give me a few more hours in the month...and probably a few more dollars in the bank since he's more frugal than I. LOL!
I had a mother's helper during my first contract, and I miss her so, so much. She took a semester off college to stay with my children when I had to have reconstructive surgery of my hip bone and socket, pelvis and femur. During that recovery, and during her time with us, I got a lot of writing and research done. I wish she was still with us, but she went to nursing school. I'm happy for her, and for her future patients because she will be so conscientious and compassionate. If you can afford a mother's helper, one you trust with your children, I highly recommend that.
I don't waste a minute. I set brutally strict hours for writing and I ignore the phone and e-mail during the time I write. I know God will alert me if the phone rings and it's an emergency. I've had overwhelming compulsion to answer it before, so I know He'll alert me.
I give my children permission to interrupt me when I'm doing more menial stuff, so they are understanding when I have to hibernate for a few days to get my rough draft down, or proof my galleys. Those are the only two things that I do writing-wise that I can't stand to be interrupted during. It takes such intense concentration.
I do a special activity with them the week before I do either of the above. Then I do something extra special for them and with them right after I finish the above.
At the advice of friend, Pammer James, I have an "activity bag" that they can only play with while I'm writing, if I happen to be under deadline and need to write while they're home or awake.
I try to set cushy deadlines so I can have special one-on-one time with each of my children. I trade time with my husband, meaning let him do things he really enjoys, like go on a ski trip or to a concert with his buddies so when I need writing time..like the recent brainstorming trip to the Carolina's, he's supportive. We love to do things together as a family and plan regular activities together. In addition my husband and I have regular date nights where it's just the two of us. Amazingly, that helps us both be refreshed and ready to take on the kids when the other needs to borrow time for something.
I delete a lot of e-mail. If you send me those meme things, or those tagged things or forwards...sorry but I usually don't read them. I have to be very brutal with what I spend my time doing and those sorts of things aren't high on the list. I wish I could have time to answer them, but I feel my blog and promotion must come first at this time, since my first book is releasing.
I include my children as much as possible. I let them stick the labels on any books I mail out, and I let them help me tape the packages. I let them stuff a pen in each envelope, and they love "helping." It gives them ownership over what I'm doing and I reward them for being "mommy's assistants."
I have a reward system I use, called ticketing. I bought a role of red tickets and I give them tickets when they let me write uninterrupted. When they play on their own, or fix their own cereal, I give them tickets. Each ticket is worth ten cents. When they get ten tickets, I trade it in for a dollar. I keep the tickets and the dollars in jars so they can see how much they have. It provides wonderful incentive. They can lose tickets for disobeying, or fighting with their sibling or for talking back, etc. The tickets aren't just for when I need to "buy" writing time. I always buy them something out of every advance. For instance, gymnastics lessons, or some craft activity that we can do together. Or something they can do while I'm writing if they choose. Most of all, I try to stay super sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and to each of my children. When I sense they're needing some TLC or special mommy time, I drop what I'm doing and focus totally on them. I don't procrastinate with deadlines so I have that buffer there. I've always turned my stuff in early. Way early in most cases.
I don't spit out proposals as fast as I could, and I won't until they all get in school. I could write about five books a year but I hold back for the sake of time with my children. I try to remember my friends who can't stay home and want to, or I think of my friends who've lost their children. It is a harsh reminder that we're not promised another day of breath nor can we take time with our children for granted. When I set priorities, I don't take anything on that would leave me with regret should something happen to someone in my family.
In summary, I put God first then my family and church and then my writing. Matthew 6:33 is a wonderful life verse and I apply it to my writing because I know God has called me to do it. To let anything other than God, church or family to distract me from it, save times my friends need prayer, would be veering away from what I know I was put on this earth to do. Love God 1st. Love my family. I write as worship and my children understand that. That said, if I get obsessed with a scene and it abducts me for far too long, they will often pull me away from the computer for a "worship jam" session or "mommy time" where we dance around the living room and sing our hearts out for a few songs. Then I get right back to work and they head for the Polly Pockets.
I make them feel like they're more valuable than the keyboard, although while I was coordinating Book of the Year, they did have hefty cyber rivalry going on. LOL! So I took the entire summer off for them. Didn't write one word. Once they started school, I dived headlong back into the books.
Because I am brutal with senseless distractions, my children are very understanding when I am under deadline and am MIA from my Hide-N-Seek posts to write.
I have a wonderfully supportive family, grandmother and mother and sister, etc. who watch them for a few hours so I can meet my deadlines.
I use every spare minute I can and as I said, I don't waste time and I've given up a lot of other things, such as sacrificing computer games, TV and IM to be able to write. Time with my children is something I know God doesn't intend me to give up. So, each year, as my commitment to my publisher demands more of my time and loyalty, He lets me know what has to go. I probably won't see the mall for a year...unless it's to take my children to cash in their tickets. LOL!
Thanks, Cheryl, for sharing how you stick to your priorities of God, family and your writing in your busy life!
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Thanks for stopping! Christmas decorations are put away and the house is relatively clean. While I'm working on revisions for Distant Hearts, I have the additional pleasure of spending the week at the launch party for the new Love Inspired Historical line. The first two books come out the second Tuesday in February. Two wonderful historicals will be released each month thereafter. If you have a minute, stop in and say hello!
Courting Miss Adelaide's Awards: Romantic Times:4 1/2 Stars**** 1/2
"Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide (4 1/2) is a wonderfully sweet love story that includes facts about the orphan trains." Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award Nominee
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Inspirational Finalist National Readers Choice Award Best First Book Finalist The Golden Quill Best First Book Finalist Booksellers Best Award double finalist in Best First book and Inspirational Book of the Year Finalist/Debut Author The Maggies Finalist/Inspirational Booksellers Best Award Best First Book/Inspirational Double Finalist